Thursday, December 11, 2008

Growing Relationships

A couple weeks ago, I went out during my lunch hour. I was relishing the few moments I had during the day for myself and only myself—I had a good book. Seated next to me was a mother and her daughter. Her daughter looked to be about 10 years old. After my first thoughts, (“Why is she not in school? Is there a school holiday that I did not know of [this happens sometimes!] and “Why did she come to a Thai restaurant—kind of sophisticated for a kid—hmmm, I should take Michael here.”) I started to casually listen to their conversation. It was pleasant and familiar. It was confidences between mother and daughter. I started to think about the type of relationship I want with my daughter. Will we go out during a work week and try out Thai food?

It got me thinking about how my relationship with Willow will be the same and different from my relationship with my son.

My relationship with my son is as complex as he is. As a toddler, he was at my side always. I took Wednesdays off every week (gladly gave up a raise to do it). We would do adventures, just him and me. The closeness I felt to him was the most wonderful feeling ever, and I hated to let those Wednesdays go when he went to school. With school came calls from the teachers, the principal, team meetings at school IEPs, medications, therapy. He is not the little tag-a-long toddler who would go along willingingly with whatever is happening. We have changed. I have become the homework and discipline monger. The reminder of chores, the person who asks whether his behavior was good today. I am the reminder to keep on task and focus. He has changed. He reads on his own, knows how to use the toaster and computer, he would rather go out with his friends than spend time with me. He is too smart for his own good. I am too tired sometimes to be patient enough with him. Our relationship over the years has been colored with my own problems of infertility and anxiety over his issues, sometimes worrying if I was coddling him or not coddling enough. But after the adjustment of the new normal with the baby, my son and I have become closer. It has become a more mature relationship. One of a older child on the cusp of teenage years. I read to him at night and he looks forward to it. Just when I think he doesn’t care what I think—he asks my opinion. Just when I think I don’t have the energy to help him—I do.

It is inevitable. My son is growing up and our relationship is maturing with it. Even though I know those old mommy and me times are gone, I would not give up the times to come with my son. I look forward to helping him get through high school. I look forward to helping him learn to drive. I look forward to many conversations on many subjects, some of which I will have no answers.

And I look forward to having those toddler tag-a-long times with Willow. I know now how precious and fleeting those moments when she will be only mine are. I hope that I have learned some of the pitfalls to avoid to keep our relationship from getting strained. I hope that I have learned to let go of things that mean little and hold onto things that mean a lot. Like sitting and talking at lunch.


Fertilized said...

I am sitting here reading wondering what my relationship i'll be like also

Rachel said...

I often think how different my relationships with my 2 children will be. With Ceara, I was a young, scared, naive mom of a newborn, freshly divorced, juggling college, work and motherhood. We lived in a crappy run down apartment that was always drafty and leaky. I felt like I never had enough of me to give her, and I still feel bad about that.
Mr. Farty was anticipated for several years before his actual arrival. I went into motherhood with him knowing I would be his only parent. I was established in my career, owned my home, and had formed some kind of 'normal life.'
What a difference 10 years can make!
I hope that I am able to give both of my kids everything that they need to be the best people they can be.
Ceara watched me struggle through college and then grad school, and hopefully learned the value of hard work. Farty will watch me be a strong, independent woman commanding respect, and will hopefully know that women must be respected and treated as equals.
One can hope, right?

~Jess said...

It's always interesting to see how relationships with children develop and what makes them that way.